Weird Oklahoma Dust Bowl Recipes To Stretch Your Budget
In the course of just two weeks, my normal grocery trip to the store jumped from $65 to $95 without getting any additional foods I normally get. Simple things like bread, cheese, soda, and a few cheap types of meat from the cold case. It was as shocking to me as I'd expect it is to you. The price of fuel has hit home in the kitchen.
Naturally, my first instinct is to find ways to save money. Buying in bulk where I can, using a coupon app to save more, and cutting down on my weekly steak and shrimp night. It's a huge bummer but I refuse to go into debt for food until the apocalypse.
Luckily, there's an infinite resource for feeding a family on a dime thanks to elderly people on the internet. The type of old people that lived through the worst financial crisis this part of the country has ever seen, yet...
Fair warning, these quick-hit weird recipes are pretty far out there. They focus mainly on nutrition rather than taste... as you know, the healthier it is for you the worst it tastes, but cheap food is still food. Let's hop in.
Like a lot of plants out there, tumbleweeds are as edible as they are annoying. If you've ever spent time on the far western half of Oklahoma, they grow on the prairie as far as the eye can see.
While there are many ways to prepare it, tumbleweed soup and the like, having it jarred and pickled would probably taste the best.
While butter goes with popcorn like, well, butter on popcorn, plenty of people made good with pouring milk over theirs. It was uber-popular and more than just a breakfast option, mostly because popcorn is and remains so incredibly cheap.
Getting right to the unusual is corned beef salad, which coincidentally doesn't actually contain any beef. It's just canned corn, peas, gelatin, lemon, and vinegar cooked down until you can make a mold out of it. While some people hated this dish, it was cheap, nutritional, and filling.
One of the best ways to save money on food is learning how to can things yourself. Instead of spending $5 on breakfast jelly, make your own for 50¢. As unappetizing as carrot jelly sounds, people swear it's amazing. It's also super cheap.
This will likely hit some people the wrong way, but cooking with bacon grease is a pretty regular Oklahoma thing. While bacon has risen in price, it's possible to find it cheap from time to time. I bought 6lbs of it at Sam's a few days ago on sale for $2.86/lb. I cook mine in the oven so I can jar that rendered fat, and I turn around and cook all sorts of stuff with it later.
It stores really well in the fridge and keeps for a long time in the freezer. I keep mine in mason jars and get a scoop out when I need fat to cook with. Additionally, bacon is life and it makes everything taste amazing, like scrambled eggs.
It's no secret that you can literally pick a salad out of the average unmanicured lawn, but did you know dandelions were edible? This is one recipe I've had before... I have hippies in my family and they make food out of anything.
Here's the shocker, if you like the dark, leafy, and bitter greens as I do, dandelions will be a treat as they're a little on the bitter side. Add some cheese and a little homemade ranch dressing and you're set. Delish.
Odds are, if you're from Oklahoma, the first thing that pops into your mind when you see "casserole" is "funeral food." That's the traditional offering to a family in mourning, but it's also a great way to stretch your food budget.
Personally, I like making Denver omelet casseroles with peppers, onions, eggs, and cheap cut-up deli ham. It also keeps really well during the week in the fridge, especially in sealable containers you can grab and go to work with.
While a butter and egg-less cake may not seem so strange these days, the trend got a start during the dust bowl. Water was used instead of milk, oil was used instead of eggs, flour and sugar were still cheap, and whatever spices you had became the flavor. It was revolutionary at the time, and if you've made a boxed cake in the last forty years, you already know how good it tastes.
Sidebar: You want truly epic chewy brownies? Replace one of the eggs with oil... Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy.
Before you reel in agony at the idea of eating something so cute, rabbit makes a fine meal. It's extremely lean, full of protein, and free if you trap them in your own backyard. Just keep in mind, there's a gamey taste to it and they're best roasted and brazed in their own blood, French style. Also not bad breaded and fried in bacon grease. That being said, man cannot live on rabbit alone. In fact, you can literally starve to death eating rabbit. They're just that lean.
Waste not, want not is the name of the Dust Bowl era game. When you wanted a crop in season to last far longer than normally possible, you pickle it. It works for just about everything you can imagine, it's that amazing of a process. This doesn't mean you're going to make it taste like a pickle, this is just how you make things last.
Cornmeal may not be as universal as wheat flour, but you can totally stretch it into so many different recipes on the cheap... if you buy regular old cornmeal. Johnny cakes, cornbread, and if you're brave enough to try it, the mixture of cornmeal and water people used to call Cornmeal Mush... I'd try it, how bad can it be?
The most delicious way to stretch your grocery dollars and still get all that good nutrition into your family has to be homemade soups. You can literally toss anything into chicken, beef, veggie, or seafood stock and the end result will be amazing. Adding beans will help thicken, plus they're uber-cheap and pack a nutritional punch.
Also, I'll say it... Beans totally belong in a proper chili.